Interview with Jaco van Wyk (SnapBill)
SnapBill is an online billing application that allows you to easily sell subscription services.
I interviewed Jaco van Wyk, SnapBill co-founder to find out more. This interview is the twenty eighth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Jaco for the interview!
How would you describe SnapBill in under 50 words?
SnapBill is an automated billing system that allows you to easily sell your products and services online.
What made you decide to start working on SnapBill?
We saw a need for a fully automated and comprehensive, enterprise grade, billing solution tailored to the needs and budgets of small to medium businesses.
SnapBill is also perfect for any startup and freelancer wishing to automate recurring/subscription billing.
Do you have a background in web applications?
Our co-founder Josh and myself have been involved in programming, design and web development since before we could talk. We previously created an online storage facility for pieces of information. It was aptly called SnapBits.
Congratulations on coming top 3 at the Tech4Africa conference. What is the startup scene like in South Africa?
The startup scene in South Africa is only now beginning to evolve. There is a definite change in mindset from young professionals to entrepreneurs. Cape Town is home to most of the startups in South Africa and it’s developing into a kind of, “African”, Silicon Valley.
How important is location? Would you ever consider moving out of South Africa?
I think location plays a less important role today than it did in the past. These days we’re just so much more connected and accessible, especially when viewed from an African context. Having developed a truly global billing solution, I feel the only disadvantage we face is supporting businesses across multiple timezones and in languages other than English.
If you have ever been to Cape Town or South Africa you would know that there is very little chance of ever leaving. Having spent time in Silicon Valley, I would still prefer to keep Cape Town as SnapBill HQ even if we expanded our physical presence globally.
What technologies have you used to build SnapBill?
Primarily PHP and MySQL. SnapBill runs on Amazon Web Services.
Has your initial vision changed since launch?
I believe we have remained true to our original vision. We wanted to bring an affordable enterprise grade billing solution to the small business market and we did that.
How long did it take to put together SnapBill?
We started development on SnapBill in early 2009. We launched as a South African only beta at the start of 2010 and opened SnapBill to the global market in the beginning of 2011.
Do you have any features in the pipeline?
There are many features currently in the pipeline aiming to improve and automate billing. Currently we are working on improving our powerful, fully customizable, signup forms. We are also looking to expand our billing capabilities across all mobile platforms.
What is your most effective method for finding new customers?
The most effective method for finding new customers, in my opinion, is to have them find you through search engines. Organic SEO is extremely important to any startup wanting to see results without having the marketing budget of an established business.
We also found it rewarding to target niche markets and presenting SnapBill to them in a way that clearly solved their specific problems.
Who is your biggest competitor?
I don’t think I can pick just one because there are so many. Luckily for us none of them do what we do, as well as we do it. Entering later into the game, we have managed to learn a great deal from our competitors which has definitely provided us with an advantage.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Growing SnapBill in markets we have no experience in. It has proven extremely difficult to get traction on a global scale. We are currently looking for partners to assist us in taking SnapBill to the user. We found it extremely difficult doing this on a startup budget and with relatively little experience.
Who is your primary target audience?
SnapBill is primarily targeted at small to medium businesses. It is also perfect for startups and freelancers who wish to look more professional and add a level of billing automation previously only available to larger businesses on a big budget.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
At the moment I am quite excited about seeing how we can adapt SnapBill to solve African billing problems especially via mobile devices which typically lack the ability to run applications or connect to the Internet.
Can you convince the reader to signup to SnapBill in under 50 words?
Yes, but instead of trying to convince you with words, signup for a free account at signup.snapbill.com and try the system out for yourself.
Finished reading? Check out SnapBill!